David Brooks’s article at the New York Times today is making the “urban planning rounds.”

I think the most important idea to take away from this article, and one I picked up on in the second sentence, is this:

Don’t plan for dreams!

Also, I think the writer has failed us – urban planners – simply by mentioning that urban planners dream about the day that Americans will “repent.” This is definitely not the way to attract readers to “our side.”

Or my side. And my side is just, rational, grounded, objective planning, for the existing and possible future needs of those for whom a plan is being created.

Right now, I’m working on a plan to serve bicyclists with better parking at transit stations. It took me a long time to develop the criteria to help me choose 40 stations, which I will eventually whittle to 10. After I chose the 40 stations, I will use different methods to find the “top 10.”

I would really like to “disrecommend” this article because it paints the picture of urban planners as holier than thou, and not in need of repentance like everyone else – this picture is created in the first two paragraphs and it really turns me off to the whole article. Unfortunately, though, thousands of people have already read the article: it’s in the Top 10 for emailed and blogged. 

Even though if you disregard this section, his points are unclear. In the tainted section I’ve already discussed, he introduces the article by saying that urban planners want American cities to be like those in Amsterdam, but in the remainder of the article Brooks talks about a Pew survey that says Americans are basically optimistic, want to move, and lists some places they’re moving. 

Brooks gives no direction to the urban planners who’re reading this (except perhaps not to try to Amsterdamize our cities), and no motivation for Americans to pay attention to urban planners.

I will not be forwarding this…

I’m not alone in my criticism of this article: Read Streetsblog’s take. I continue to hold that the New York Times is one of the best news and opinion source for armchair planners.